LONDON – Phil Davis believes champion Ryan Bader has earned the right to be in Bellator’s ongoing heavyweight grand prix, but the 205-pound division that Bader currently rules has to move on.
Which is why Davis, who had the light heavyweight belt before Bader snatched it away, believes there might be an interim title situation depending on what happens with Bader, who’s now set to meet Matt Mitrione in the tournament semifinals.
Regardless of how the 205-pound title picture ends up looking, Davis knows one thing: A win over ex-title challenger Linton Vassell at Friday’s Bellator 200 should land him back there.
“I think this solidifies my spot as – if there’s going to be an interim belt, it’s going to involve me,” Davis told MMAjunkie during Bellator 200 media day. “If there’s going to be any talk of defending the belt, it’s going to be involving me. So this puts my name in the hat for all the talk.”
Of course, that involves first getting past England’s own Vassell when the two meet at The SSE Arena in London in a Paramount-televised main-card bout that airs via same-day tape delay.
Vassell (18-6 MMA, 7-3 BMMA) has the turf advantage, but Davis (18-4-1 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) has the momentum. After Bader took a split call to snap Davis’ four-fight winning streak in their Bellator NYC rematch, the ex-champ bounced back with a unanimous-decision win over then-undefeated Leo Leite.
Vassell, in turn, is back after a failed title attempt against Bader – which, in turn, snapped a three-fight winning streak. “The Swarm” also has title contention goals with a win on Friday and, as he told MMAjunkie, he also has a pretty clear idea of how to make it happen.
As for Davis? It’s not that he doesn’t know how he can beat Vassell. It’s just that he wouldn’t really put it in those terms.
“I don’t say, ‘How do I bet him?’” Davis said. “I say, ‘How does he last 15 minutes?’ And I start working backwards from there. Well, he can last 15 minutes if he runs. OK, we need to be in shape so we can chase him. All right, check that one off. Let’s see. You know, I don’t know. I don’t know how you last 15 minutes.
“He’s going to have to have a great game plan, and I’ve prepared a lot, not so much for him but just prepared myself to be the best striker, to be the best grappler, to be the best wrestler, to be the best man in the cage on Friday night.”
Getting a new stab at the title – of whatever kind that title is – would certainly be a cool way to celebrate a mark: Davis’ three-year anniversary with Bellator. “Mr Wonderful” had his promotional debut in Sept. 2015 after a 13-fight UFC stint.
When it comes to his current home, Davis has absolutely no complaints. Since crossing over to the Scott Coker-run promotion, he says, there’s been nothing but good times. Simply put, the 33-year-old light heavyweight is truly satisfied with where he’s at.
“I’m content, I’m happy,” Davis said. “Things are well.”
To hear from Davis, check out the video above.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Interim or undisputed, Phil Davis knows this: Bellator 200 win puts him back in title talk